Key’s Yellow Jackets kick off the season Sept. 1 against Louisville at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That showdown is now less than three weeks away, so with the sand trickling down the hourglass, a sense of urgency has begun to pulsate throughout Tech camp.
Because of that, Key said he and his staff will begin to focus their efforts on formulating a depth chart that will peg the two best players at most every position, although not necessarily who is the starter and backup at every spot. One of those particular spots of interest is quarterback, where Zach Pyron, Haynes King and Zach Gibson are battling to be the team’s starter.
Key remains mum on who will start under center against the Cardinals on the first day of September. He said all three quarterbacks got reps Saturday between the first and second teams.
“Days like today, for myself, it’s not as much to see who goes out and plays great. It’s who handles adversity,” Key said. “It’s who handles adversity when you’re in a two-minute drill. It’s second-and-16. Or you get a big play, and a 15-yard penalty has it brought back. Who’s going to be able to shake that play and move on to the next one? That’s what we’ve got to continue to do with these guys.”
Another talking point Saturday was the heat.
While the Jackets’ first contest will be played indoors and their third is an evening kickoff in Oxford, Mississippi, against Ole Miss, there’s the home opener sandwiched between those two Sept. 9 against South Carolina State. That matchup is scheduled to kickoff at 1 p.m., the same time as Saturday’s scrimmage.
Key said putting his team through the tough conditions Saturday will not only pay dividends the second weekend of September, but also in the long haul.
“Camp’s a grind. Nothing comes easy in the game,” he said. “There’s no secret sauce or you flip a switch and all of a sudden become a good football team. You have to build a calloused football team. Days like today are that, really, those guys have to push through. It builds the team tighter. It brings them closer. It has been a grind.
“The reward you get in training camp is to see your individual reward every day. To be able to go out and see you that you improved on something, that you made gains in an area, that’s what we’re looking for each day.”
The Jackets, Key said, would attend a family barbecue Saturday evening and and will then be off Sunday before resuming preseason camp Monday afternoon. They’re scheduled to practice each day next week before another scrimmage Aug. 19.
The team will then shift to morning practices Aug. 21 to coincide with the start of classes.
“I’m excited about the progress,” Key said. “Not pleased where we’re at by any means. I do think I have a chance to be pleased with the group moving forward here in the next couple of weeks. Although anyone that knows me knows I’m not going to be pleased at much of anything out there.”